When I went to college, I was somewhat of a vegetarian – I think they call it a flexitarian these days. I ate very little meat – chicken and fish were ok but I would recoil at the site of beef, pork or veal. It has been a long time and I honestly can’t remember the source of my decision but I recall that some part of the decision making was based on ethical convictions. Obviously, I am a weak person. I maintained my lifestyle for quite some time – all through freshman year in college and even for the large part during my summer in Rome where I refused to eat the veal that was served at the restaurant that hosted us and therefore was subjected to omelets and cheese every single day at lunch. Things became more complicated when I studied in Florence and found myself in a family home where meat of all varieties was served. I could not say no lest I offend the family but I maintained that I would not eat beef or pork if I had the choice. (I still ate bacon. Seriously, who doesn’t eat bacon?) But then after college, I worked as a group leader for tour groups. I was on a day trip in Umbria to the beautiful little village of Spoleto and I discovered porchetta – a roasted pork sandwich. My colleague and I took a break from the group and she lead me to the center square and we sidled up to the food truck in the piazza for a roasted pork sandwich. No matter that it was 10:30 in the morning. The pig is slowly roasted over a spit with herbs and spices until it is cooked to perfection (it takes a loooong time). Then the pork is cut off in slivers and placed on a rosetta bun (called rosetta because the roll looks like a rose flower). That is all there is to a porchetta sandwich but even as I write this, my mouth is watering at the thought of it. Obviously, the practicality of roasting a pig over a spit is somewhat limited in my little corner of Connecticut but I have finally found a recipe that I love. It is from Debbie Mazar and her husband Gabriele (if you have not seen there cooking show “Extra Virgin” on the Cooking Channel, I urge you to check it out). Here is the link to the recipe: Porchetta Sandwiches
They fancy up the sandwich with some additions but the pork they made is so delicious, you could serve it in the traditional way. If only we could find those fabulous rosette here in the States. Ciabatta rolls make the best substitute.
In Parma they say “Il maiale e’ come la musica di Verdi: tutto buono, niente da buttar via” (“The pig is like the music of Verdi: it’s all good, there’s nothing to throw away”). Though in the past I would have never subscribed to this philosophy, I must say that I have embraced it of late. Have some porchetta and you will be converted too!